Transforming technology: Development of light-activated probes for protein labelling

FUNDING: 10 weeks (full time, 37 hrs per week, £12 per hour, £850 consumables, £500 student accommodation bursary)
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Dr. Keith Livingstone, Chemistry, Leeds

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Chemical probes are central to understanding the behaviour of proteins as they allow us to visualise or modify specific proteins to track their function. Probes that are activated by light are extremely useful for this purpose, as the user has increased control over when and where the reactive probe is revealed. Most examples of light-activated reactions use UV light, which is harmful to humans and requires specialised lamps. Identifying probes that can be activated using violet, blue or green LEDs is therefore an important area of research. In this project, the student will work with well-known light-activated probes and attempt to modify model proteins using visible light in the presence of a photocatalyst. This will be accomplished through a process beginning with the synthesis of the probes, moving on to screening different photocatalysts and light sources, testing the reaction on small molecules, and validating the reaction by labelling a model protein. They will have the opportunity to present their findings and discuss them with the rest of our research group and learn from experienced colleagues in a dynamic lab environment. Students will be expected to present their findings orally at a research day in York in September 2024.